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Catholic Life Features

175 Flashback: Bishops that came from Buffalo


To date, 14 men born in the Diocese of Buffalo have been named bishops. Currently, one is still serving as ordinary. Impressive as this may sound, 14 does not appear to be an inordinately large number for a diocese the size of Buffalo.

Bishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv.,

Currently serving as ordinaries:

Bishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., was born in Buffalo and raised in Tonawanda. His family belonged to St. Amelia Parish, where young Gregory attended school before going to Cardinal O’Hara High School. He was ordained a Conventual Franciscan Friar in 1973. He served as bishop of Savannah from 2011-2020, and archbishop of Atlanta since May 6, 2020.

Retired bishops include:

Bishop Robert J. Cunningham – bishop of Ogdensburg from 2004-2009, and bishop of Syracuse from 2009-2019. This Buffalo-born bishop has also served as administrator of the dioceses of Buffalo and Rochester, giving him the distinction of serving as shepherd of half of New York. 

Bishop Edward M. Grosz – auxiliary bishop of Buffalo from 1990-2020. Born in Buffalo and educated at St. John Vianney Seminary in East Aurora.

Deceased bishops include:

Bishop Pius A. Benincasa – auxiliary bishop of Buffalo, 1964-1986. Born in Niagara Falls

Bishop Stanislaus J. Brzana – bishop of Ogdensburg, 1968-1993. Born in Buffalo.

Bishop Joseph A. Burke – bishop of Buffalo, 1952-1962. He was the first native son to be named bishop of Buffalo. Born in Buffalo.

Bishop Joseph A. Burke, ninth Bishop of Buffalo

Archbishop Celestine J. Damiano – apostolic delegate to South Africa, 1953-1960. Later archbishop of Camden, New Jersey, 1960-1967. Born in Dunkirk.

Bishop Bernard J. McLaughlin – auxiliary bishop of Buffalo, 1969-1988. Born in Buffalo.

Bishop John J. McMahon – bishop of Trenton, New Jersey, 1928-1932. Born in Hinsdale.

Bishop James J. Navagh – bishop of Ogdensburg, 1957-1963, then bishop of Paterson, New Jersey, 1964-1965. Born in Buffalo.

Bishop Martin J. Neylon, SJ – First bishop of Micronesia, 1980-1995. Born in Buffalo.

Bishop John A. O’Mara – bishop of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Then bishop of St. Catharines, Ontario. Born in Buffalo.

Bishop Leo R. Smith – bishop of Ogdensburg, 1963. Died in Rome during sessions for Vatican II, just five months after his installation as bishop. Born in Attica.

Bishop Donald W. Trautman – bishop of Erie, Pennsylvania, 1990-2012. Born in Buffalo.

Bishop Robert J. Cunningham

Other priests of this diocese who became bishops

Bishop Francis Xavier Krautbauer, bishop of Green Bay, Wisconsin, 1875-1885. Born in Bavaria, he served in Buffalo as a missionary, serving as assistant at St. Joseph Cathedral

Bishop Thomas J. Walsh, bishop of Trenton, New Jersey, 1918-1928 and later bishop and archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, 1928-1952. He was the first archbishop of Newark. Born in Parker’s Landing, Pennsylvania, Bishop Walsh attended St. Bonaventure College in Allegany (later St. Bonaventure University), and was ordained for the Diocese of Buffalo.  

Edmund F. Gibbons, bishop of Albany from 1919-1954. Born in White Plains, he came to the diocese to study at Niagara University.    Bishop John Joseph Fitzpatrick born in Trenton, Ontario. He moved to Buffalo at age 5. Ordained by Bishop John Duffy in 1942, he then served as military chaplain in Florida. He was named auxiliary bishop of Miami in 1968, and later bishop of Brownsville, Texas.


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